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Big Sagebrush Fire Ecology and Management

Sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems occupy more than 100 million acres of the western United States. Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) communities are among the most widespread of sagebrush communities. The land area historically occupied by sagebrush has been reduced by nearly half due to a variety of causes, including human development, agriculture, woodland expansion, nonnative plant invasions, overgrazing by livestock, and climate changes. About 30% of the land formerly occupied by sagebrush communities has been converted to other land cover types, including conifer woodlands and nonnative annual grasslands, and additional areas are under threat of conversion.

sagebrush burningNot only do many species rely on sagebrush communities, but these altered land cover types differ from sagebrush communities in their fire ecology and fire regimes. For example, conifer woodlands have higher woody fuel loads and altered fuel structures that increase the potential for high-intensity, stand-replacing crown fire. Fires in nonnative annual grasslands tend to be more frequent, larger, faster spreading, and more severe than in sagebrush communities, which can result in a grass/fire cycle that prevents sagebrush from reestablishing.

Resources listed here contain the most recent and applicable information on these topics for big sagebrush ecosystems in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

This hot topic was developed in partnership with the Fire Effects Information System.

Podcasts

Apr 16, 2021 Episode 12: Detecting Shrub Recovery in Sagebrush Steppe
Cara Applestein, Matthew J. Germino
Apr 16, 2021 Podcast Episode 12: Detecting Shrub Recovery in Sagebrush Steppe
Robert E. Keane, Cara Applestein, Matthew J. Germino

Syntheses

2005 Restoring Wyoming big sagebrush
Cindy R. Lysne
2002 Artemisia arbuscula (low sagebrush)
Peter D. Steinberg

Publications/Reports

2021 Practical postfire sagebrush shrub restoration techniques
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Madeline N. Grant-Hoffman et al.
2021 A synthesis of the effects of cheatgrass invasion on US Great Basin carbon storage
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
R. Chelsea Nagy et al.
2021 The Effect of Seeding Treatments and Climate on Fire Regimes in Wyoming Sagebrush Steppe
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Chris Bowman-Prideaux et al.
2020 The effects of fire on the thermal environment of sagebrush communities
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Christopher R. Anthony et al.
2020 Quantifying pinyon-juniper reduction within North America's sagebrush ecosystem
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Jason R. Reinhardt et al.
2020 Weeds, wheels, fire, and juniper: Threats to sagebrush steppe [Chapter 3.3]
Technical Report or White Paper
Pamela E. Padgett
2020 Winter foraging ecology of Greater Sage-Grouse in a post-fire landscape
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Marcella R. Fremgen-Tarantino et al.
2020 Earlier fall precipitation and low severity fire impacts on cheatgrass and sagebrush establishment
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Tara B. B. Bishop et al.
2020 Longer-term post-fire succession on Wyoming big sagebrush steppe
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Jonathan D. Bates et al.
2020 Sagebrush rangelands and greater sage-grouse in Northeastern California [Chapter 4.3]
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
R. Kasten Dumroese
2020 Small-scale water deficits after wildfires create long-lasting ecological impacts
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Rory O'Connor et al.
2019 Validating a time series of annual grass percent cover in the sagebrush ecosystem
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Stephen P. Boyte et al.
2019 Potential for post‐fire recovery of Greater Sage‐grouse habitat
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Corinna Riginos et al.
2019 Potential for post-fire recovery of Greater Sage-grouse habitat
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Corinna Riginos et al.
2019 The ecological uncertainty of wildfire fuel breaks: examples from the sagebrush steppe
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Douglas J. Shinneman et al.
2018 Annotated Bibliography: Research on Greater Sage-grouse since January 2015
Technical Report or White Paper
Sarah Carter et al.
2018 Plant community factors correlated with wyoming big sagebrush site responses to fire
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
John C. Swanson et al.
2018 The response of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) to interannual climate variation changes across its range
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Andrew R. Kleinhesselink et al.
2018 Fuel bed response to vegetation treatments in juniper-invaded sagebrush steppe
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Christopher R. Bernau et al.
2018 Spectrophotometry of Artemisia tridentata to quantitatively determine subspecies
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Bryce A. Richardson et al.
2017 Seed Production Estimation for Mountain Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana)
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Melissa L. Landeen et al.
2014 Cattle grazing and vegetation succession on burned sagebrush steppe
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Jonathan D. Bates et al.
2013 Models for predicting fuel consumption in sagebrush-dominated ecosystems
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Clinton S. Wright
2011 Saving the sagebrush sea: An ecosystem conservation plan for big sagebrush plant communities
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Kirk W. Davies et al.
2011 Greater sage-grouse: Ecology and conservation of a landscape species and its habitats
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Steve Knick et al.
2011 Converting crested wheatgrass stands to enhance big sagebrush: A literature review
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Krystle A. Pehrson et al.
2007 Recovery of big sagebrush following fire in southwest Montana
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Peter Lesica et al.
2007 Post-fire recovery of Wyoming big sagebrush shrub-steppe in central and southeast Montana
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Stephen V. Cooper et al.
2007 Big and black sagebrush landscapes
Conference Proceedings
Stanley G. Kitchen et al.
2006 Fire and restoration of sagebrush ecosystems
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
William L. Baker
2006 Biomass consumption during prescribed fires in big sagebrush ecosystems
Conference Proceedings
Clinton S. Wright et al.
2005 Effective management strategies for sage-grouse and sagebrush: a question of triage?
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Michael J. Wisdom et al.
2005 Restoring Wyoming big sagebrush
Conference Proceedings, Synthesis
Cindy R. Lysne
2005 Seeding considerations in restoring big sagebrush habitat
Conference Proceedings, Synthesis
Scott M. Lambert
2005 Big sagebrush: A sea fragmented into lakes, ponds, and puddles
Technical Report or White Paper
Bruce L. Welch
2005 Reseeding big sagebrush: techniques and issues
Conference Proceedings
Nancy L. Shaw et al.
2005 The role of fire in structuring sagebrush habitats and bird communities
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Steve Knick et al.
2004 Establishment of aerially seeded big sagebrush following southern Idaho wildfires
Technical Report or White Paper
Cindy R. Lysne et al.
2003 Countering misinformation concerning big sagebrush
Technical Report or White Paper
Bruce L. Welch et al.
2003 Impacts of fire on hydrology and erosion in steep mountain big sagebrush communities
Conference Proceedings
Frederick B. Pierson et al.
2001 The role of fire in juniper and pinyon woodlands: a descriptive analysis
Conference Proceedings
Richard F. Miller et al.
2000 Long-term effects of fire on sage grouse habitat
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Pamela J. Nelle et al.
1997 Wildfire case study: Butte City Fire, southeastern Idaho, July 1, 1994
Technical Report or White Paper
Bret W. Butler et al.
1996 Long-term recovery of Wyoming big sagebrush after four treatments
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Myles J. Watts et al.
1996 An investigation on fire effects within xeric sage grouse brood habitat
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Richard A. Fischer et al.
1994 VA mycorrhizal status of burned and unburned sagebrush habitat
Conference Proceedings, Technical Report or White Paper
Jan E. Gurr et al.
1986 Sagebrush over time: A photographic study of rangeland change
Conference Proceedings
Kendall L. Johnson
1983 Fire history at the forest-grassland ecotone in southwestern Montana
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Stephen F. Arno et al.
1982 Fuel and fire behavior prediction in big sagebrush
Technical Report or White Paper
James K. Brown
1979 The role and use of fire in sagebrush-grass and pinyon-juniper plant communities: a state-of-the-art review
Synthesis, Technical Report or White Paper
Henry A. Wright et al.
1975 Presettlement vegetation in the sagebrush-grass area of the Intermountain West
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Thomas R. Vale
1973 30 years of vegetation change following burning of sagebrush-grass range
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Roy O. Harniss et al.

Webinars

Apr 28, 2021 Bringing it All Together – A Panel Discussion on Fuel Break Perspectives
Jeremy D. Maestas, Justin Boeck, Michele R. Crist
Jun 3, 2020 Why is Sagebrush Country on Fire?
Michele R. Crist
Jul 31, 2019 The SageSuccess Project Part 1, Sagebrush Restoration, and Implications for Resistance and Resilience
David S. Pilliod, Matthew J. Germino, Robert S. Arkle
May 26, 2017 Sage steppe resilience mapping in the Green River Basin
David M. Theobald, Clare Aslan
May 3, 2016 Big sagebrush ecosystem response to changing climate and disturbance
William Lauenroth, Kyle Palmquist, John Bradford, Daniel Schlaepfer

Upcoming Events

None.